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Charities Bill tabled in Parliament

23 March 2004 Media Statement

Charities Bill tabled in Parliament

A new Bill creating a Charities Commission will increase transparency and accountability in the charities sector, says Commerce Minister Margaret Wilson.

The Charities Bill, introduced into Parliament today, establishes a registration, reporting and monitoring system for charities.

“This means information on charities would be more accessible to the public, while allowing charities to publicly demonstrate they have been registered as having and maintaining charitable purposes,” Margaret Wilson says.

“We are fortunate that the sector in New Zealand is a reputable one, however, opening it up to greater scrutiny will ensure that the public’s confidence and trust in charities is maintained,” Margaret Wilson says.

Registration with the Commission will be voluntary, however charities wishing to be exempt from tax would need to register, she says.

“The Government has expressed its commitment to the charitable sector through various initiatives, including the establishment last year of the Office of the Community and Voluntary Sector, the 2002 Government Policy of Volunteering, the signing of the Statement of Government Intentions for an Improved Community-Government Relationship in 2001, and the provision of ongoing tax exemption for charities.

“This is a further initiative that acknowledges the vital contribution this sector makes to the economy and wellbeing of New Zealand and New Zealanders. The registration system will increase the amount of information on this contribution that is available to government, the sector and the public.”

The Bill is likely to be referred to a Select Committee, which will give the public the opportunity to make submissions.

“In recognition of the size of the charitable sector and its interest in this Bill, the Ministry of Economic Development has set up a freephone number and has launched a website."

Interested people can phone 0508 242 748 or 0508 CHARITIES or visit www.charities.govt.nz for more information.

“The Association of Non-Governmental Organisations of Aotearoa (ANGOA), in partnership with local community trusts, is also planning a series of briefing meetings on the Bill in 22 locations. Details of these meetings will be posted to the www.charities.govt.nz website once known.”

Margaret Wilson says the Government intends to have the Bill passed into law late this year. Registrations are likely to be invited from mid-2005. Charitable organisations will then have up to 12 months to register prior to their tax status being affected.

ENDS

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